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What Does it Take to Become a Dental Assistant?

Help those pearly whites stay white and a strong bite in your patient’s future. A career as a dental assistant is not only a rewarding but also a stable position as the demand for dental assistants is on a constant rise due to the need in this field. What does it take to become a dental assistant? Here are some helpful hints when thinking of pursuing this field.

Education & Work Experience

Marshalltown Community College offers an 11-month dental assisting diploma program to give you the education you need! In under a year, you will receive the hands-on training to learn the skills you will need to be successful in your position. Students focus on the following skills:

  • Patient care
  • Administrative procedures and office management
  • Dental records
  • Oral health management
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Dental specialties (endodontics, pediatrics, orthodontics, oral surgery and community health)
  • Operative and side chair assisting (instrument transfers and procedures)
  • Coronal polishing and fluoride treatments
  • Dental radiography (x-ray equipment, safety and digital/film processing)

This is just a short list of the skills you will learn at MCC. Students also participate in externships, where students work with patients under the guidance of experienced dental professionals. The work experience that students receive fully prepares graduates to move into any Dental Assisting work setting.

Duties of Dental Assistant

What does an average day of a dental assistant look like? Dental assistants work much of their day closely with patients and dentists. When working with patient, you may be taking medical history, blood pressure or their pulse for a procedure, explaining what will occur in their visit and about the patient’s oral care.

You will also be helping the dentist with procedures. This could include passing the instruments they need and holding equipment. You may also be preparing the treatment area and making sure that instruments and equipment are sterile and ready for the next patient. When finishing off a patient’s visit the dental assistant will also document what has occurred during the visit and schedule any needed follow-up appointments.

Dental assistants are trained to take x-rays of teeth and the surrounding areas. Lab tasks can also be a portion of an assistants’ role. This could include taking impressions of a patient’s teeth, taking impressions, fabricating bleach trays and retainers, polish teeth to remove stains and plaque from the enamel or apply sealants, fluoride, or topical anesthetic.

Job Outlook

It’s important when choosing a career to feel secure in the job market to increase your chances of employment. The employment rate for dental assistants is growing faster than average for ALL occupations. Dentists will continue to need the skills of an assistant. Picking a career that will always be in demand makes the decision easier, knowing that you will be able to find employment. Along with being able to secure a position, a dental assistant makes an average of over $40,000 a year.

In just 11 months through Marshalltown Community College’s dental assisting diploma, you can help keep teeth shining bright and healthy. Even better….the Dental Assisting program through MCC is eligible for FREE tuition through the Last-Dollar Scholarship. Take the 11-month program and potentially come away with no student loan debt!

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